2:00PM Water Cooler 4/5/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

At reader request, Birds of Australia. The Superb Lyrebird does not disappoint.

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#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching.

Vaccination by region:

That’s the stuff to give the troops. • Early in February, I said a simple way to compare Biden’s performance to Trump’s on vaccination would be to compare the curves. If Biden accelerated vaccine administration, the rate of vaccination post-Inaugural would kink upward, as the policies of a more effective administration took hold. They have not. The fragmented, Federalized, and profit-driven lumbering monstrosity that we laughingly call our “health care” “system” has not responded to “energy in the executive,” but has continued on its inertial path.

IL: “How many fully vaccinated in Illinois have still gotten COVID-19, been hospitalized?” [Daily Herald (marym)]. “Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported Wednesday that 17 people in the state who were considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have since been hospitalized by the respiratory disease. Additionally, of the more than 2.1 million people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Illinois, 399 have tested positive for the virus — or 0.0185% of those fully vaccinated, IDPH officials said.”

WA: “Of 1.2 million fully vaccinated people in Washington state, 100 have gotten COVID-19” [ABC (kareninca)]. “Out of the 1.2 million people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Washington, epidemiologists have reported evidence of 102 breakthrough cases in 18 counties since Feb. 1, representing less than 0.01% of all fully vaccinated individuals in the northwestern U.S. state. Most cases were patients who experienced only mild symptoms, if any, according to a press release from the Washington State Department of Health…. The Washington State Department of Health is investigating reports of the so-called breakthrough cases, which it said are expected with any vaccine.” • Alert reader kareninca writes: “My new obsession is ‘breakthrough cases.’ I will now be doing searches for stories on that every day.” What an unfortunate term, “breakthrough.” For whom?

Case count by United States regions:

Now a downward trend, caused by a drop in New York (see the chart of Big Sttates below). The Midwest is slowly rising, however. All I can say is that if you have a system that has worked for you, keep at it. And avoid closed, crowded, close-contact settings, evem so-called outdoor dining. Don’t share air!

MI: “COVID-19 cases spike in Michigan, fueled by infections among kids” [CBS]. “As federal officials warn of a potential fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, Michigan has emerged as one of the most pressing hotspots, with average daily infections now five times what they were six weeks ago. New data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows this dramatic surge is due in large part to cases spiking among children and teenagers…. The rise in cases among kids has been evident elsewhere across the country. In Minnesota, people under age 20 made up nearly a quarter of reported cases in March, up from less than 15% at the end of February. Similar trends have been seen in other states as well, including Illinois and Massachusetts. According to physicians and infectious disease experts in Michigan, much of the rise in pediatric cases can be linked to the reopening of schools and youth sports. State data shows more than 40% of new outbreaks (defined as two or more cases linked by place and time) have come from either K-12 schools or youth programs. But Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, senior public health physician at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says social gatherings after youth sporting events are also contributing to the spread. ‘If everyone is removing their mask and going out to dinner to celebrate a big win then all of those precautions go out the door,’ she said. ‘So really, this seems to have driven this surge.'” • Rachel, good job. (To be fair, a winning lacrosse season might be the one thing that gets little Madison into Ohio State. So here we are.)

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

The big drop in New York, but flattening. Hopefully, it’s not a reporting issue.

Test positivity:

Hospitalization:

Hospitalization data is the best data we have, because hospital billing is a highly functional data acquisition system (ka-ching). That said, hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

I wondered why the upward blip in the Northeast (blue):

Turns out it’s New Jersey.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is dropping now, for some reason as unknown as why it rose.

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Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Patient readers, more to come. –lambert

Capitol Seizure

“Half of Republicans believe false accounts of deadly U.S. Capitol riot: Reuters/Ipsos poll” [Reuters]. “The disinformation campaign aimed at downplaying the insurrection and Trump’s role in it reflects a growing consensus within the Republican Party that its fortunes remain tethered to Trump and his devoted base, political observers say.” • If you want to see a real coup or a real insurrection, follow Myanmar. The preening and navel-gazing, it b-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-s-s-s!!!!

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Bidenomics, explained” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. ” it would be wrong to characterize his program as merely a grab bag of long-time Democratic policy priorities. Three approaches stand out above the maelstrom: 1. Cash benefits, 2. Care jobs, 3. Investment. Before I go on to discuss the justification for this new paradigm, I’d like to sum up all these “pillars” into one more-or-less cohesive vision of where I think Bidenomics is taking us. I think it’s aiming to create a two-track economy — a dynamic, internationally competitive innovation sector, and a domestically focused engine of mass employment and distributed prosperity….. I think Bidenomics, with its dual focus on research/investment/immigration and care jobs + cash benefits, is an attempt to boost both sectors of the economy at once — to make the export sector more productive while making the domestic sector better at spreading the wealth around. If there’s one unified characterization of the vision Bidenomics is creating for our future, I think that’s it.” • The Biden policymaking process seems almost completely opaque; this is the only piece I’ve seen that takes a shot at explaining why care and investment are together in the same bill, which struck me as very odd. Worth reading in full, if only to disagree with.

“Biden Steps Up Federal Efforts to Combat Domestic Extremism” [New York Times]. “The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat domestic extremism, increasing funding to prevent attacks, weighing strategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups and more openly warning the public about the threat.” • “[S]trategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups…. This would be a good one….

“Once-secret Guantanamo Bay unit shuttered by US” [The Hill]. “The facility suffered from structural issues and was never meant to be permanent. The AP reports that the facility was meant to be replaced, but the Pentagon abandoned its plans to obtain funding for the project. The AP notes that the Biden administration has said that it intends to close down the prison on Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration had also sought to do. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that a “robust” review would be done that would involve several agencies including the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. ‘There are many players from different agencies who need to be part of this policy discussion about the steps forward,’ Psaki said.” • I was going to give Biden a pat on the back for this, but sadly no.

Is this the “Build Back Better” part?

Exactly:

“Vulnerable Dems fret after getting a shock: AOC’s campaign cash” [Politico]. “Some members whose campaigns got unexpected Ocasio-Cortez cash are seeking answers directly from DCCC Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and his top staffers. DCCC aides gave lawmakers’ wire transfer information to Ocasio-Cortez’s aides without the approval of more senior officials, according to multiple people familiar with the contributions. Even if imperiled House Democrats refund her contribution now, Ocasio-Cortez’s name is almost certain to show up on their Federal Election Commission reports when they’re due this month — creating a liability for members of her party who have to win reelection in districts where her political brand is poisoned thanks to years of unrelenting Republican attacks.” • Never, ever occurs to Democrats that whatever the Republicans poison might be worth defending. Instead, they ball up like little armadillos, and then the Republicans gleefully run over them anyhow. That said, the old phrase “dance with the ones that brung ya” might be usefully recalled to AOC’s attention. It’s a shame to see talent like that go to waste.

Democrats en Deshabille

Pete.

Republican Funhouse

“Publix Picked As Vaccine Provider After Giving $100,000 To Gov. DeSantis PAC: ‘60 Minutes’” [HuffPo].

Publix grocery chain pharmacies in Florida were chosen to distribute nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 vaccines in the state weeks after the company donated $100,000 to a PAC supporting GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, “60 Minutes” reported Sunday.

The money trail was one of several linking wealthy supporters of DeSantis to special vaccine access, whether it was a greenlight to boost business as a vaccine provider, or special access to getting the shots.

In another example, the wealthy Republican city of Palm Beach was given 1,000 vaccine doses from an early, limited supply, the TV news show reported. A number of communities of color in the county, meanwhile, lagged far behind in access to the vaccines as Publix, the state’s largest supermarket chain, was allowed to decide on its own where to focus its efforts to distribute the vaccinations.

Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi compared the situation to a free-for-all “Hunger Games,” with desperate Floridians scrambling for vaccinations and wealthy GOP contributors almost always coming out on top.

The story built on local media reports about special access to vaccines to GOP donors. Those earlier stories triggered a call last month for an investigation into “red carpet vaccine distribution” by state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, who also serves as Florida’s consumer watchdog.

Fried cited reports that included nearly every individual over the age of 65 in Ocean Reef Club, a wealthy Key Largo enclave of GOP contributors, received vaccines by the middle of January. At the same time, people in most of the rest of the state were desperately scrambling to obtain vaccines.

“If this isn’t public corruption, I don’t know what is,” Fried said at a press conference in early March.

You say “Hunger Games” like that’s a bad thing.

2020

Interesting map:

Trunp Legacy

UPDATE “How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations” [New York Times]. “Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election. Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out. As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a “money bomb,” that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language.” • Here’s the automatic opt-in:

This is the darkest pattern I’ve ever seen. Whoever designed it has a real future in politics.

UPDATE “Trump Keeps History at Bay by Putting Off Presidential Library” [Bloomberg]. “But planning for a library would suggest he’s done being president and that’s not something he’s ready to concede, say people familiar with his thinking. Trump has publicly dangled the possibility that he will seek the Republican nomination in 2024. ‘Once he says, ‘I am going to be raising money for my library,’ he’s given up even the pretense of trying to run again,’ said Anthony Clark, who has written about the politics and history of presidential libraries. By delaying a library, Trump puts aside, at least for now, a chance to shape the story of his presidency — as Richard Nixon initially did at his museum by describing the Watergate scandal as a Democratic coup attempt, or as George W. Bush did with a theater that allows participants to vote on the options that he faced such as whether to invade Iraq but ends with a video of Bush explaining his decision.” • ”The Trump Presidential Library and Casino.” Why not?

Clinton Legacy

Please stop:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Expand access? A historic restriction? What the Georgia voting law really does.” [WaPo]. “A close examination of the language in the law shows it does contain new restrictions on voting; some are likely to make it disproportionately more difficult for poorer voters and voters of color to cast their ballots. It’s also correct that there are ways in which the law expands voter access, particularly in ways that will be visible in rural areas.” Key point: “State lawmakers get much more power over county and local elections (and Republicans have decisive majorities in both the state Senate and the state House). The law states that the General Assembly will select the chair of the state elections board, rather than the board being chaired by the Georgia secretary of state — an elected position. The chair is supposed to be nonpartisan. The state election board can investigate county election boards and has the power to suspend county election superintendents — though the law limits the state board to suspending four at a time.”

UPDATE “Election laws: How Georgia compares to other states” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. A good wrap-up. As I read it, there’s nothing wildly out of line with other states, including the Blue citadel of New York (although the new role of the General Assembly goes unmentioned). This caught my eye: “SB 202 changed the way Georgia handles provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Under the law, election officials cannot count such votes unless they are cast after 5 p.m. It’s unclear whether any other state has a provision that makes acceptance of such ballots contingent on when they were cast.” • Seems to open the door to shenanagains.

UPDATE “What Does Georgia’s New Voting Law SB 202 Do?” [Georgia Public Broadcasting]. “Requesting and returning a ballot will also require new ID rules: either your driver’s license number, state ID number or, if you don’t have those, a copy of acceptable voter ID. The law also allows for applications to be returned online, after the Secretary of State’s office launched an online request portal using your driver’s license number or state ID number ahead of November’s general election. Poll workers will use that information, plus your name, date of birth and address, to verify your identity, and you will sign an oath swearing that everything is correct. This is a change from recent procedure that would check your signature on the application with those on file.” • I’ve gotta say, if signature matching is the only alternative to voter ID, I’m against signature matching. I am one of the people who cannot produce the same signature twice, especially under stress. If liberal Democrats are concerned that the marginalized won’t have ID, let them fund an NGO to solve the problem (which might expand their base in the poor and working class, if they really want to do that.

UPDATE “Georgia’s Election Law, and Why Turnout Isn’t Easy to Turn Off” [New York Times]. “For decades, reformers have assumed that the way to increase turnout is to make voting easier. Yet surprisingly, expanding voting options to make it more convenient hasn’t seemed to have a huge effect on turnout or electoral outcomes. That’s the finding of decades of political science research on advance, early and absentee voting. One prominent study even found that early voting decreases turnout, though that’s a bit of an outlier…. [C]onvenience isn’t as important as often assumed. Almost everyone who cares enough to vote will brave the inconveniences of in-person voting to do so, whether that’s because the inconveniences aren’t really so great, or because they care enough to suffer them…. [C]onvenience voting methods tend to reinforce the socioeconomic biases favoring high-turnout voters. The methods ensure that every high-interest voter has many opportunities to vote, without doing quite as much to draw less engaged voters to the polls.”

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“Covid survivors look to turn grief into lobbying clout” [Politico]. “Activists with chronic illnesses helped save Obamacare from repeal. Gun violence survivors built a movement to take on the NRA. Now, a cohort of Covid survivors is working to turn their grief into political power.” • Good luck to them, because “helped save” and “built a movement” is pretty weak tea, based on outcomes. Helps enrich the already rich tapestry of the NGO world, though.

Stats Watch

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI jumped to 63.7 in March of 2021 from 55.3 in February, well above forecasts of 59. The reading pointed to the strongest growth in services activity ever…. “Respondents’ comments indicate that the lifting of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions has released pent-up demand for many of their respective companies’ services. Production-capacity constraints, material shortages, weather and challenges in logistics and human resources continue to cause supply chain disruption” says Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM.” • Presumably, these being purchasing managers, they figure they can work around the supply chain and labor market challenges. (And presumably they have taken into account the idea that what they can do individually doesn’t necessarily translate into what they can do collectively.)”

Services: “Another Record: ISM Services Comes In Scorching” [Heisenberg Report]. “The recent surge in service sector growth shows no sign of abating,” Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit declared. ‘While consumer demand is rising especially strongly for goods, the surveys are now also showing rising activity in the consumer services sector, linked to the vaccine rollout, looser virus containment measures and the fresh injection of stimulus in March,’ he added, noting that ‘the biggest concern is inflation.'” • We aren’t hearing much about punchbowls lately, though, are we?

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods dropped by 0.8 percent from a month earlier in February 2021, the first decrease since April’s record contraction and compared with market expectations of a 0.5 percent drop.”

* * *

Shipping: “Cargo Ship Bottleneck Off Los Angeles Nears Six-Month Mark” [Bloomberg]. “Ship congestion outside the biggest U.S. gateway for Asian imports remained elevated with the wait to offload containers lengthening to eight days, adding costs and complications for companies trying to stay well-stocked in an accelerating economy. A total of 28 container ships were anchored awaiting entry into the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, as of Sunday, compared with 26 a week earlier though still below a peak of 40 in early February, according to officials who monitor marine traffic in San Pedro Bay. Another 16 are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, with seven of those expected to drop anchor and join the queue. The average wait for berth space climbed to 8 days, compared with 7.9 days a week earlier, according to the L.A. port. That’s about triple the average delay in November. The backlog, which started to form in October, has been tough to clear because of shortages of both equipment and labor needed to handle an unrelenting wave of imports. March is typically one of the slowest months for inbound merchandise, but the influx of steel boxes this year show few signs of easing.”

The Bezzle: “NFTs Weren’t Supposed to End Like This” [Anil Dash, The Atlantic]. “the NFT prototype we created in a one-night hackathon had some shortcomings. You couldn’t store the actual digital artwork in a blockchain; because of technical limits, records in most blockchains are too small to hold an entire image. Many people suggested that rather than trying to shoehorn the whole artwork into the blockchain, one could just include the web address of an image, or perhaps a mathematical compression of the work, and use it to reference the artwork elsewhere. We took that shortcut because we were running out of time. Seven years later, all of today’s popular NFT platforms still use the same shortcut. This means that when someone buys an NFT, they’re not buying the actual digital artwork; they’re buying a link to it. And worse, they’re buying a link that, in many cases, lives on the website of a new start-up that’s likely to fail within a few years. Decades from now, how will anyone verify whether the linked artwork is the original? All common NFT platforms today share some of these weaknesses. They still depend on one company staying in business to verify your art.” • Lol. You bought the pointing finger and thought you were getting the moon. Reminds me of MERS. This is well worth a read, because there’s more, much more.

The Bezzle: “And finally, here’s what Joe’s interested in this morning” (charts) [Bloomberg]. “It’s time to officially bury Goldbug Macro. You know, the school of thought that’s always warning about dollar debasement and inflation as a result of money printing. … Here is a chart of gold over the last 10 years. It’s up about 10%. During this period we’ve run large deficits the entire time, and in fact over the last year, some of the biggest fiscal stimulus of all time. During this time the size of the Fed’s balance sheet rose to nearly $8 trillion from under $3 trillion. Not only has gold performed poorly, the dollar is still dominant. Not only that, inflation has been mild, contra to what all the Goldbug Macro types would have predicted….. After two huge crises in just over a decade, plus fiscal and monetary stimulus the likes of which we haven’t seen before, we now have enough evidence to bury the economic fantasies of gold’s most ardent believers.”

“The Economy”: “The powerful economic recovery in the U.S. looks to be setting up a two-speed rebound around the world. Wealthy countries and those with economies driven by exports are enjoying the fruits of successful vaccine campaigns and resurgent growth…. while poor nations are seeing signs that capital is flowing away toward rich nations” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. economy is expected to grow by around 6.5% this year, benefiting export-oriented countries selling goods to American shoppers while putting more pressure on already-stretched supply chains. Analysts expect the U.S. stimulus alone will add 1.4% to Vietnam’s economy over the next two years, second only to Mexico. Thailand’s exports are forecast to rise up to 5% this year, with U.S. sales up sharply. Logistics operations are adjusting.” • Well, all I can say is that we’ve put all our chips on “Vaccine.” Let’s hope the ball hits the pocket and the bet pays off, because the alternative will be wonderfully clarifying, and not in a good way.

Labor Market: “The jobs market is increasingly being built online. E-commerce heavyweight Amazon added about 500,000 workers around the world last year, including more than 400,000 in the U.S…. even as global employment rose by about net 370,000 jobs among the 286 members of the S&P 500 that have filed annual reports” [Wall Street Journal]. “The analysis illustrates how the pandemic-driven upheaval in the business world during 2020 raised the importance of digital sales and logistics. Adding to the trend, FedEx was second to Amazon with 50,000 added jobs last year, and United Parcel Service was third with 48,000 jobs, as both companies scrambled to keep up with the rapid growth in package-delivery demand. Other parts of the economy moved on a different track. In all, 133 companies in the analysis shrank their workforces. Among them, a dozen companies lost a quarter or more of their workers.” • I’m thinking that logistics, very much unlike manufacturing, does not require local knowledge (machines, materiel, “management skills”). A warehouse is a warehouse. A ship’s bridge is a ship’s bridge. A cockpit is a cockpit. It occurs to me that the internationalist left, if any, should be taking a leaf from the book of Christian(ist) missionaries (not that book), and translate their literature into as many languages as they can.

Travel: “Delta cancels 100 flights due to staff shortages” [The Hill]. “Delta Air Lines reportedly canceled about 100 flights on Sunday due to staff shortages and placed some customers in middle seats for the first time in a year…. The company had announced on Wednesday that it would be reintroducing the sale of middle seats beginning May 1, about a year after it stopped selling those seats to allow for some social distancing on flights. Onboard drinks and snacks will also return in mid-April. Boxed meals will return in July.” • Presumably they’ll be shrinking their fleets to fill as many seats as possible….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 1 at 5:15pm. One year ago, just after the end of the Before Times: 22 (Extreme Fear). Last update 5:15pm April 1. The intern checked out on the next-to-the-last day?

The Biosphere

“Why Citizen Scientists Are Working to Cultivate New Apple Varieties” [Modern Farmer]. “Pome fruits such as apples, pears and quince are heterozygous, meaning they do not grow true to seed. If planted successfully, each seed from an apple will yield a tree that grows fruit different from its parents. Apples in particular have an incredibly complex genetic code, with approximately 57,000 genes—far more genes than the human genome’s estimated 30,000 genes. Of the 7,500 known apple cultivars in the world, only 2,500 are grown in the United States. Some of the ones we know best, such as the Honeycrisp or Fuji, were developed through a modern scientific breeding process, during which researchers attempt to achieve favorable characteristics such as tastiness, crispness and resistance to diseases. Before plant breeders intentionally crossed different varieties in such fast, efficient ways, apples naturally spawned new types over many years. The apple fell, the seed germinated and, somehow, it survived and grew. The evidence can be seen across New England, a region prized for its abundance of wild apple trees, where cider makers forage for wild apples that have grown without conscious human intervention. Now, a growing number of citizen scientists in other parts of the country want to replicate the experience elsewhere. ‘I couldn’t have that experience that our East Coast brethren were having—going out and finding something that’s totally new and grew there, originated there, just by happenstance,’ says Cavalli. That’s not to say there are no wild apples or seedlings growing along a fence side or in historic orchards in California, but nothing at the scale of what’s available on the East Coast.”

Health Care

“The Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2020” [JAMA]. Key factoid: “From 2019 to 2020…. suicide deaths declined by 5.6%.”

Water

Drone shots of a Pennsylvania slag heap:

Sports Desk

Opening Day:

A fine example, also, of American soft power, which we’re amazingly stupid about and wasteful of.

Poetry Nook

I love this poem:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“D.C. Urban Moms forum allows parents to gab about schools but reinforces segregation, study finds” [WaPo]. “‘The conversations on DC Urban Moms illustrate what other research has also shown,’ the report’s conclusion states. “When privileged parents choose, they tend to choose segregation.’ As the forum is anonymous, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly where each poster lives. But in posts where parents say they live in a neighborhood that is gentrifying, the Brookings study found that they mention charter schools more often than their neighborhood schools, suggesting these families are seeking information to opt out of their neighborhood schools. Families are assigned and guaranteed slots at their neighborhood schools but can apply through the city’s school lottery system for a seat at a charter school or other school outside their neighborhood boundary. The study notes that many schools located in low-income neighborhoods are never mentioned in the forums and parents are using the forum to share advice on how to get access to schools they perceive as the best in the city…. [T]he results of the study are not all that surprising. D.C. neighborhoods and schools are segregated and White children — who are 12 percent of the city’s more than 95,000 public school students — tend to concentrate in a relatively small number of campuses. One reason for this is residential segregation. The White families who are concentrated in the upper northwest swath of the District opt into their neighborhood schools in large numbers. Affluent families of all races have also enrolled in a relatively small number of the city’s 128 public charter campuses by using the school lottery placement system.”

“Test Anxiety” [City Journal]. “The fundamental problem: under the current exam-based standards, white and Asian students perform well enough to earn the vast majority of spots in gifted-and-talented programs, and an even greater share in top high schools, yet 70 percent of the roughly 1 million children across the system’s 1,800 schools are black or Hispanic. Progressives say that these disparities amount to segregation and vow to ameliorate them. Many Asian parents, often of Chinese descent, say that abandoning the standardized-testing system will penalize Asian families, often poor, who have dedicated their limited resources to ensuring that their children can take advantage of every opportunity.” • This logic would not apply, of course, to Asian families who brought wealth with them.

Guillotine Watch

“I Moved My Family From Brooklyn to Boulder” [WaPo]. Deck: “It was Rocky.” More: “Before the November elections, three corners on a stretch of 28th Street were monopolized every Saturday by advocates. ….And then, a block down, representing his own vision of democracy, was a man in drag dancing to Taylor Swift and Rihanna. Skinny and scantily clad, he’d donned a flowing rainbow-colored wig, fishnets, stilettos and a black boa. He held a large sign that read ‘Werk the Polls’ on one side and ‘Honk if you’re horny to vote’ on the other. ‘I’m seducing people to the polls,’ he told me when I stopped by to chat. ‘I saw there was aggression and intensity.’ He nodded at the Biden and Trump camps. ‘I don’t think the animosity is Boulder. At the end of the day, we’re all people. We’re all humans on the same journey.’ Describing life as a journey, all of us hiking our earthbound trail together — it didn’t get more Boulder than that.” • It’s all like this, except sometimes moreso. I’m seeing this “journey” trope a lot (especially evocative for those who are actually able to travel). “My Covid Journey,” etc.

Class Warfare

“Essay Content is Strongly Related to Household Income and SAT Scores: Evidence from 60,000 Undergraduate Applications” [Center for Education Policy Analysis, Stanford]. “There is substantial evidence of the potential for class bias in the use of standardized tests to evaluate college applicants, yet little comparable inquiry considers the written essays typically required of applicants to selective US colleges and universities. We utilize a corpus of 240,000 admissions essays submitted by 60,000 applicants to the University of California in November 2016 to measure the relationship between the content of application essays, reported household income, and standardized test scores (SAT) at scale. We quantify essay content using correlated topic modeling (CTM) and the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software package. Results show that essays have a stronger correlation to reported household income than SAT scores. Essay content also explains much of the variance in SAT scores, suggesting that essays encode some of the same information as the SAT, though this relationship attenuates as household income increases. Efforts to realize more equitable college admissions protocols can be informed by attending to how social class is encoded in non-numerical components of applications.”

“Bartlett: Socialism Is as American as Apple Pie” [Bruce Bartlett, The Big Picture]. “According to the dictionary, socialism means that the government owns all the means of production, and Republicans are right that this system doesn’t work very well. But absolutely no one is advocating that. Today’s advocates of ‘socialism’ merely want a somewhat expanded welfare state or even just a government that actually works. Republicans are running against a strawman, though history tells us that has never stopped them before.” • Harsh but fair.

“McDonald’s, Other CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business” [Newsweek]. Daily Poster now appearing in Newsweek. “Big restaurant chains are telling investors that a national minimum wage hike wouldn’t be a big deal—even as their corporate lobbying groups in Washington fight plans for a $15 minimum wage. ‘We share your view that a national discussion on wage issues for working Americans is needed—but the Raise the Wage Act is the wrong bill at the wrong time for our nation’s restaurants,’ the National Restaurant Association wrote in a letter to congressional leaders in February. ‘The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from a fast-tracked wage increase and elimination of the tip credit.’ The following day, a top executive at Denny’s, one of the association’s members, told investors that gradual increases in the minimum wage haven’t been a problem for the company at all. In fact, California’s law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has actually been good for the diner chain’s business, according to Denny’s chief financial officer, Robert Verostek.” • Perhaps the strong chains are fine with it, and the weak are not? More: “[Matt Clark, Cheesecake Factory’s chief financial officer] added that a wage hike could affect some of the company’s competitors, and ‘ultimately the stronger survive and take market share.'”

News of the Wired

“A heathen’s Easter” [Interfluidity]. Penultimate paragraph: “The history of Christianity, especially at the social and political level, imperfectly evinces this ethos which I draw from, or project onto, the tale [of Easter]. Nevertheless, I think the ethos offers crucial lessons for us now. All of our political factions, even the ones who coined the pejorative term, slip frequently into ‘othering’ one another. I take that to mean a withdrawal of the love, or even the aspiration of love, from some group or class of humans, often because ‘they” are purported to be vicious or guilty or dangerous, to have harmed us or our values or people we hold dear. There is a lot in our social affairs that needs changing, and there will be losers as well as winners from those changes. In a broad sense, I think if we act well and wisely, there will be many fewer losers than we fear, because our misarranged society exacts terrible costs even upon most of its ‘winners’. We reform society out of love for humans, to create scope for greater flourishing. But when people are harmed, whether transiently or durably, that counts as a cost, regardless of how wicked we persuade ourselves are the losers. That there will be losers is no excuse for inaction, in the same way that our love for a murderer mustn’t inhibit us from sober punishment. We owe a duty to all the humans. However difficult it may be to quantify human welfare, as best we can we must find ways of improving it. But the eggs we must break are losses to be minimized, not righteous smiting of the vicious. To whomever you are shouting at, owning, canceling, legislating against, you owe a duty of love. Aspire to love even your murderer. If you are better than me (and I assure you, you are), aspire to love even your child’s.” • Well worth reading in full, whether you celebrate Easter or not.

John 20:11-18:

One of those verses that persuades me there was a historical Jesus, because who on earth would make up “She, supposing him to be the gardener“?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plan (JS):

JS: “Palms after the Texas freeze.” I know this is not really a Spring photo, but it has historical interest!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

128 comments

  1. Jeff W

    “What an unfortunate term, ‘breakthrough.’ For whom?”

    The virus, I think. The virus “breaks through” the protection afforded by the vaccine.

    Reply
    1. IM Doc

      This data on the two states – IL and WA – is actually very positive. It is reflecting very good news which we need right now. And as far as I can tell, does not appear to be manipulated like so many other things I see every day.

      Raw data is always the best.

      We will see if this trend continues to hold elsewhere. We still have 3 big tests to go – first of all, how long is the immunity going to last, and secondly, how well this appears to be working with the various variants we have floating around. Of equal importance – is if the vaccinated are able to spread the virus.

      But indeed this is encouraging data.

      Reply
      1. Jeff W

        This US News & World Report piece (“’Breakthrough’ COVID Cases After Vaccines Are Rare, Expected”) has some additional data, other than from Washington State, which it also mentions:

        …126 cases among 568,968 fully vaccinated people works out to about .02%…[Louisiana]

        One study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that only four out of 8,121 employees who were at least two weeks past their final dose were infected — about .04%. Another found that just seven of 14,990 employees at two California hospitals later were infected, a similar rate.

        [links omitted]

        Reply
    2. Cuibono

      Tracking breakthrough cases is a good real world measure i think.
      a couple thoughts;
      1) how comprehensive is the data reporting on this? is it mandatory?
      2) what variations do we see or will we see with breakthrough in regions with variants of concern such as EEK or P1 or B 117?
      3) early days still: obviously we want to see time patterns of breakthrough over the next 6-9 months and beyond to assess logevity of protection

      Reply
      1. Rick

        Seems to be state by state – at least, Oregon is stonewalling on the data. The state legislature is trying to pass a bill that would limit the public health exception to government transparency laws.

        Reply
        1. Andrew Watts

          There’s a good reason why Oregon might be hiding the data. They’re probably under counting the number of deaths in elder care facilities. I’m pretty sure the state requires a positive test before it is officially counted as a COVID death.

          Reply
    3. nimmpau

      It’s almost as if, when they say the vaccine is 92% effective, that means it is also 8% non-effective.

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        This is a classic example of the way that Big Pharma manipulates data for public consumption. The entire 92 and 8 and 95 and 100 % effectiveness reporting is very much not what the average person thinks it is. It is the old ABSOLUTE vs RELATIVE schtick. The RELATIVE numbers are much higher – 92 95 etc – and much easier for the vast majority of people to digest – but it is actually not representative of what most people think it is.

        I have literally had to explain this hundreds of times since the vaccines came out to my patients in person. Pharma has been using this statistical contrivance since way before I was an intern in their ads and glossies – one of the very first lessons in medical epidemiology class is how to cut through this to get to the real numbers.

        Reply
        1. Cuibono

          yeah and that is just the start of it.
          a few other things:
          was the study group applicable to my situation? Age, demographics, comorbidities
          was the study location applicable?
          what exclusions were there that might affect the numbers (think of 2D +14 for example as you have mentioned.

          then we come to the NNT. you might think everyone gains 95% protection. Doesnt work that way though.

          Reply
  2. TMR

    “Citizen scientist” strikes me as vaguely outdated and condescending in the same way that “boy adventurer” does.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What phrase would you use instead?

      (Personally, I think it’s excellent to be a scientist, and excellent to exercise one’s citizenship by doing science. So I fail to see what’s condescending. “Outdated” it may be, though I’m not sure which part, but in the last 40 years the country has abandoned a lot of things were once excellent.)

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I took this ‘headline’ to be misplaced. I imagined that “citizen scientists” working to improve “Apple varieties” to refer to the computer Apple, not the biological Apple.
        Similarly, the “Apple” corporation has abandoned previously ‘excellent’ items.
        When speaking of “apples” in all their wondrous aspects, the term “crapification” seems quite out of place. How about “pulpification” instead?

        Reply
      2. anEnt

        Amateur? Uncredentialed? Volunteer? Naturalist?

        We used to call such people lay scientists which was too close to an admission that our system of science is a religion with credentialed scientists its priesthood.

        Reply
  3. aleph_0

    Has there been any data on how the vaccines do with preventing long covid?

    I know there’s been evidence presented that the vaccines prevent hospitalization and death, but I hadn’t seen any results for long covid. Since the NC commentariat tends to be thorough, I wanted to ask to see if I was missing something.

    Reply
    1. cuibono

      i read compulsively but have seen nothing. some commentators hinted getting the vaccine helped some with long symptoms but i would take that with a large GOS

      Reply
  4. Carolinian

    Factoid for the Cooler–Denny’s corporate headquarters is in my happenin’ burg. Clearly they have fallen under the spell of our liberal politics (/sarc…Trey Gowdy is also from here).

    Wouldn’t recommend the food too much…..

    Reply
  5. Hepativore

    So what is this about AOC contributing money to many Blue Dog Democrats? I know that AOC was worryingly borderline in terms of being corrupted by the DNC establishment, but what does she get out of going along with the very same people who have spat on her and tried to block her supposed goals at every turn? The party bigwigs will never accept her as one of them and she basically turned her back on the very people who put her in office in the first place.

    I do not mean to sound like a “purity pony”, but at what point should we say that a supposed “progressive” is a lost cause?

    Reply
        1. Procopius

          Maybe she was just teasing them. Taunting them that their right-wing schtick is less profitable than they expected. Or maybe she’s just showing them they don’t have to be 100% dependent on the Republican wing of the Democratic party. Or maybe it’s just a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to the DCCC, since she gave wide publicity to the point that they do whatever they can to work against anybody to the left of Atilla the Hun. It’s interesting to speculate.

          Reply
    1. albrt

      She apparently insisted on giving the money directly rather than through the DCCC, so her name would show up on the Blue Dogs’ FEC reports. I think she’s trolling them.

      Reply
        1. Michael

          Very interesting videos. I would contend that her effectiveness is more a reflection of the corruption of the House, than her ideas. Additionally, one might say this in fact a troll, as she gets to point out who turned her down when she supports a primary challenge. She also got to show the level of her grass roots support. Her power base is the people and this is a good way to demonstrate it.

          Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > She apparently insisted on giving the money directly rather than through the DCCC, so her name would show up on the Blue Dogs’ FEC reports. I think she’s trolling them.

        I read this as sloppy staffwork. As far as giving money to people like Slotkin, who has a tough race to follow, well, that’s the sort of thing that Pelosi did.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Funding fellow members’ campaigns is a time-honored method of accumulating power in the House.

      Slotnik’s refusal, in that light, can be seen as a statement she’s not willing to be indebted to or controlled by Ocasio-Cortez in any way. Anyone who accepts? Now, they *owe* her something.

      Reply
  6. MK

    The issue no one addresses is the daisy chain of minimum wage hikes. If I’ve worked up my wages, from minimum of $9 per hour to $18 per hour, how crappy do I feel when the new hire gets $15 per hour right away and I’m at $18 after years of hard work. I’m guessing employers will just give everyone a $7.75 an hour raise to keep everyone happy and productive.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Supposedly Walmart now pays $14 and likely other similar stores do as well. By the time any $15 finally takes effect it may be obsolete.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        That would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? Actually, $15 is obsolete already, in that if it was based on inflation since 1969 it should already be $23/hr. Probably s/b even higher due to outsized growth in medical costs and housing costs.

        Reply
  7. allan

    Re: Key factoid: “From 2019 to 2020…. suicide deaths declined by 5.6%.”

    Also too: from 2019 to 2020, alleged increases in

    Heart disease from 659K to 690K
    Alzheimer’s from 121K to 133K
    Diabetes from 88K to 101K

    while Cancer was rock solid at 599K.

    So, there were another ~56,000 COVID-19 adjacent deaths that might
    well be due to CYA-19. How many of these were in nursing homes?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      IIRC, there was a good deal of “teh suicides” among shutdown opponents. Also, I find it interesting that a key component of “deaths of despair” actually decreased. That is why I selected that stat, which stood out, from the others.

      Reply
      1. allan

        About those deaths of despair:

        Drug Overdose Deaths Spiked To 88,000 During The Pandemic, White House Says [NPR]

        Drug deaths spiked dramatically during a period that includes the first six months of the pandemic, up roughly 27% compared with the previous year, the acting head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said Thursday.

        “We lost 88,000 people in the 12-month period ending in August 2020,” Regina LaBelle told reporters during a morning briefing. “Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and synthetic opioids are the primary drivers of this increase.”

        That number, based on provisional data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is sharply higher than the figure reported by the CDC as recently as last December.

        This sounds like an FOIA request that writes itself.

        Reply
        1. anEnt

          I’ve lost two relatives to overdose in the last year, one to old age, and none to COVID-19. Deaths of despair are still prevalent and even expanding to previously uncharted demographics.

          Reply
          1. Don Utter

            I wrote a comment to the article asking about drug overdoses.

            I am not a physician, I don’t have an affiliation or a title, and I noted that I was asking about this because they are up three fold here in Ohio.

            And I had a vague hunch that they would have increased the suicide numbers.

            I got an email that my comment was rejected along with their criteria.

            Given the comments above about drug overdoses and Covid, I am even less convinced that that report itself makes sense.

            Reply
            1. anEnt

              Oh, it makes sense. The PMCers have clearly recognized that Something Must Be (seen to be) Done about the Case-Deaton findings. The something they seem to have arrived at is gaming the statistics to redefine suicide to not include overdoses. Granted, there are some accidental deaths, but I expect that there is strong incentive for PMCers to believe that all overdoses are accidental…

              Reply
  8. enoughisenough

    Who would make up the Jesus as gardener line?

    Well, no one today would, but in the world of the Greek Novel, I doubt it’s that rare. There are also tons of jokes and tropes in there a straight reading in English would never pick up on.

    The NT is entirely literary construct, imo, it fits perfectly in the greater Hellenistic world.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There are also tons of jokes and tropes in there a straight reading in English would never pick up on.

      That theory occurred to me, but a hasty search for exegesis turned up nothing. Maybe flesh out this idea a little?

      Reply
      1. Eloined

        You may be familiar with the Jesus Seminar, a group which looked for signs and characterizations of the historical Jesus in the four canonical gospels plus the Gospel of Thomas, which in general — due to the novelty of its content relative to other myths, etc. of the time — they considered as more indicative and revealing of the historical Jesus than the canon is (see also: the theorized source “Q”). As I recall they also found the Sermon on the Mount to be quite novel.

        Though the Jesus Seminar’s group of “fellows” contained a lot of top-notch, multi-disciplinary scholars including linguists, not all of the fellows were such. And their color-coded, democratic method of evaluation wasn’t much appreciated by many admins and basic users of Christianity who get along fine with dogma and clear hierarchy. An interesting initiative in any case.

        Reply
      2. Chromex

        well in Acts and others there are examples of the supposedly resurrected Jesus appearing in guises, unrecognized, and who vanishes upon recognition. The story in John, which virtually ALL scholars believe was a late , and different gospel, is not found in the other gospels, which seems suspicious if there was a Mary Magdalene, certainly an open question. I refer you to the 2014 peer-reviewed study by Richard Carrier The historical Jesus-Why we might have reason for Doubt” . Certainly in the Eastern traditions of the time and earlier, spiritual masters were disguising themselves as beggars etc, and dialoging with their disciples to teach them lessons-and the recognition of the “beggar” as the guru usually resulted in a revelation… ( see eg Shankara) . This fits since there is a rather big revelation here- the resurrection. To accept this particular passage as true is accepting far more than that there was a historical Jesus- it seems to accept that there is a historical Jesus who was resurrected. A bit of a stretch. Anyway, since the common spiritual idea- east and middle east- is that the person, at first does not recognize the apparition or person before him or her as who they really are ( and upon recognition the scales fall from their eyes etc) it seems reasonable that lots of people would make up such a thing.

        Reply
        1. enoughisenough

          Lambert, well, I don’t have direct comparanda for a gardener trope in classical lit, offhand, but I did just read all of Acts with a fellow classicist, just for fun, and we saw a sh*t ton of hilarious tropes that we know from other places that people don’t pick up on.
          (it wouldn’t be the kind of thing you can just search for, when a lot of this is still be recognized now, it most likely wouldn’t be in simple searches).

          So my first inclination would be to check for literary conventions before assuming realia. A gardener is an evocative metaphor, though, will just say that. It ties him to Dionysus and other mystery cults based in plants dying and being reborn, etc.

          The original readers of the original Greek texts would have been pretty literate and picked up on references like that. But I’ll check with my friend who studies early Xianity to see if he’s seen stuff I haven’t.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The original readers of the original Greek texts would have been pretty literate and picked up on references like that. But I’ll check with my friend who studies early Xianity to see if he’s seen stuff I haven’t.

            Thanks! That would be really helpful.

            Reply
            1. enoughisenough

              Hey Lambert, still haven’t gotten a hold of my specialist friends, but did a cursory academic search and found a few titles that ….if it panned out….seems like a case could be built pretty easily that the gardener mention is symbolic. John in particular was the *most* in depth literary and intellectual of all the gospels, so it is probably necessary to think there is more here. Everything these books seem to be about tie in perfectly to the scene: utopias, issues of temporality, religious and philosophical stuff, you name it. Could be humorous, too. Such as Jesus as healer means he would be a gardener, knowing the herbs/medicines. Really a huge topic in classical studies.

              Giesecke, Annette. 2007. The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome.

              Time and Temporality in the Garden
              Miller, Mara
              Gardening ‐ Philosophy for Everyone, 2010-09-24, p.178-191

              Gardens and Gardeners of the Ancient World: History, Myth and Archaeology
              Linda Farrar
              2016

              Reply
              1. enoughisenough

                oh in fact, just found this, so…..

                Jesus the gardener: the atonement in the Fourth Gospel as re-creation
                John Suggit

                https://www.jstor.org/stable/43048364?seq=1

                Abstract

                The two-fold aim of this paper is (i) to determine whether the description of Jesus as the gardener is symbolic; and (ii) to show that the atonement in the Fourth Gospel is seen in terms of renewal and transformation. Starting with some of Origen’s comments, it is then argued that re-creation is a consistent theme of John. This is borne out by a brief look at some early interpretations of John’s theology, with special reference to Athanasius, after which consideration is given to the meaning of Jesus as the gardener, and the legitimacy of new interpretations.

                Reply
                1. enoughisenough

                  This looks pretty good as well. I suspect there’s a ton out there:

                  Supposing him to be the gardener: a case study in intertextuality and allusion
                  Anthony M. Moore
                  in Signs of Salvation, 2013-09-26, p.54

                  “This study began as a reflection on the question, ‘why does John refer to the risen Jesus as the gardener?’ (Jn 20:15). The Synoptic gospels offer no such narrative detail and the image has a sense of mystery about it which might lead the reader to inquire if this is one of the many examples of the Fourth Evangelist using the rhetorical device ofamphibologia, introducing a word or theme that has meaning simultaneously on the literal (if not historical¹) and theological levels. It may well be that John was shaping his Resurrection Narrative around certain source material.”

                  ^ yeah, so this will look into other sources “John” was using, which could be very cool.

                  Reply
        2. occasional anonymous

          I’ll just add that whether there was a historical Jesus or not, he didn’t appear to anyone at any tomb. Because there was no tomb. He was crucified; crucifixion was the Roman punishment for treason, and not a Jewish punishment for anything, least of all blasphemy. The entire point of crucifixion wasn’t just to kill someone, it was to kill them slowly, and then leave the corpse up on the cross rotting for weeks or months as a warning to others. There was no tomb.

          The punishment for blasphemy was stoning. So there goes the entire idea that the Pharisees got the Romans to try and execute Jesus for blasphemy. In fact what we know of the historical Pontius Pilate is that he hated Jews, and wouldn’t have cared less about their incessant whining about theological matters he likely found incomprehensible. Some guy claiming to be ‘King of the Jews’ though? Judea was a Roman vassal state; its only ‘kings’ were whoever the Romans endorsed. Jesus claiming to be heir to to the throne, why that’s treason. Precisely the type of thing they’d crucify someone for.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            I thought Christ was crucified for preaching without a police permit? Seriously I doubt that Pontius Pilate hated Jews so much as the ones that were running the place. Imagine, for example, being a US diplomatic representative to only the Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel today and what a headache that could be. The place was a source of endless trouble due to their hyper-religious nature and in the end the Romans just destroyed the place after a four year war.

            Reply
      3. QuicksilverMessenger

        It should be remembered that this is very common image in what would be called a real lineage/ teaching with teacher and disciple. When Milarepa went to meet Marpa, he did not recognize him, thought he was talking to some old fool peasant. From Trungpa : “When Milarepa met Marpa, he did not know the man was Marpa, at first. There was just this farmer who demanded work”. This theme was even brought, a little crudely, into modern popular culture, by George Lucas, with the meeting of Luke Skywalker and Yoda. I wouldn’t propose the meaning behind this, but only to say that what you think you are looking for, is usually completely different from what you find. Or that the master is often hiding right in front of you.

        Reply
      4. elissa3

        The resurrected Jesus as a healer in D H Lawrence’s “The Man Who Died”, or alternatively known as “The Escaped Cock”. Probably his last work, and enjoyable reading.

        Reply
  9. upstater

    Here’s one to file under crapification:

    Ugh: Awful New Marriott “Contactless” Features

    Check in using a kiosk, validate your Id, get your breakfast out of a machine (the picture looks as bad as it sounds). This is being done because of customer demand, the press release says. The kiosks have antimicrobial properties baked into the glass supposedly and have UV lighting; probably testing will show they all have fecal bacteria after a day’s use.

    No doubt housekeeping is being similarly made efficient by customer demand. Who needs a clean shower and washed sheets and towels anyway?

    Reply
    1. Phil in KC

      At many Marriott brands, if you agree to wallow in your filth and refrain from maid service, then you will earn a reward, the value of which is comparable to a large Starbuck’s coffee. Filth or coffee, its up to you. Choices!

      Reply
  10. Tomonthebeach

    Abandoning standardized testing undermines meritocracy. On the one hand, we say: “Let’s offer limited resources to those best equipped to maximally exploit them. On the other hand, we say: “That is not fair because objective criteria deprive my offspring of access to those limited resources.

    Either 2+2=4 or you got the item wrong. Back in the 60’s we psychometricians had a debate on the issue of culture-fairness, and objective tests were purged of inadvertent culturally biased items. It is not that Asian-American kids have higher IQs or are less anxious than kids of other ethnic backgrounds. There is no credible evidence for that. However, many Asian cultures, Chinese especially, generally do place greater emphasis on self-discipline and studying at home than families in some other cultures. Not surprisingly, their children enter the test environment better equipped to select the correct answers on the test. How is that not fair? As for test anxiety, who isn’t anxious when they have not studied for a test?

    Economists especially know they should be careful about drawing conclusions from subgroup differences in macro analyses. Very often macro data blind us to other variables not in the equation such as economic factors, variability in testing environments, language spoken at home, and real differences in performance due to nutrition, health, neighborhood violence, teacher quality by neighborhood differences, etc. Level the playing field for factors like those, and watch how negatively affected groups improve.

    Reply
  11. rowlf

    I voted D in the Georgia run-off election in January but the stimulus check I received today was Fun-Sized. I guess I learned something.

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      As my great-great Irish grandfather would say, “You haven’t successfully sold your vote until you’ve collected the funds.”

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . . if the Joemala Administration and the DemMajority Senate combine to restore some functionality to the Departments, Agencies and Bureaus of the Administrative State, and the EPA, FDA, etc. start to reduce and control the amount of cancer gas the business community can put into your air supply,
      , the amount of cancer juice the business community can put into your water supply, and the amount of cancer gravy the business community can ladle over your food supply; then you might find your quality of life going up and your disease-burden-induced expenses going down, maybe by even more than the difference between a fun-sized check and the jumbo-sized check the two DemSen candidates promised.

      Thank God for small favors? Are small favors better than no favors at all? Only time will tell.

      Reply
  12. Anonapet

    One of those verses that persuades me there was a historical Jesus, … Lambert

    The one for me was ‘Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” ‘ How down to earth can you get?

    Btw, I didn’t really believe/understand the New Testament until I had read the Old Testament. And that was a stumbling block of many – that they were ignorant of the Old Testament when the Messiah appeared.

    Reply
  13. Mark Gisleson

    The Biden militarizing the cops story seemed worth retweeting so I did. But the graph didn’t RT so I took a screenshot of the graph and put it in a new retweet. So that one shows the graph twice, but that works better for me than not at all.

    I so do not miss Twitter…

    Reply
  14. Jason Boxman

    Indeed, when liberal Democrats spoke of Trumpian authoritarianism, I always thought one need only look at the campaign of extra-legal mass murder in the Philippines to see how such claims regarding Trump were absurd. How many deaths in the United States can be attributed to Trump’s death squads? Zero. How many such squads did he actually have? Zero.

    So the unreality regarding the Washington “insurrection” is hardly a surprise from liberal Democrat quarters.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Indeed, when liberal Democrats spoke of Trumpian authoritarianism, I always thought one need only look at the campaign of extra-legal mass murder in the Philippines to see how such claims regarding Trump were absurd. How many deaths in the United States can be attributed to Trump’s death squads?

      At least on politics, it’s half of what I read is unhinged, and the other half is unmoored… It’s not easy to process it. I wish we could somehow put a period at the end of Covid and get some sense of resolution but that seems unlikely in the near term.

      Reply
  15. Ranger Rick

    Interesting tableau of that slag heap. Speaking of soft power, it’s mixed in with tweets by the same guy discovering that something (or someone, it’s a virtual performer) in Japan was playing his very American video game online for a crowd.

    I’ve been to Boulder, even lived there for a time, and I would hesitate to call the journey metaphor a trope in that context. The culture in that town is a bewilderingly-complicated melange of spiritual and ethnic traditions married to the usual philosophical excesses of any good-sized college town. I would not be surprised at all if the person was speaking from a Buddhist perspective (Boulder is home to quite a few Buddhists) when he invoked the metaphor.

    Reply
  16. cocomaan

    The NY Times article about Biden’s tactics against extremist groups gives away the ending in the first sentence:

    The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat domestic extremism, increasing funding to prevent attacks, weighing strategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups and more openly warning the public about the threat.

    Notice they didn’t say weighing strategies EFFECTIVE against foreign terrorist groups. Because, after twenty years of bloodshed, there aren’t any effective strategies that anyone can take away from the war on terror. It was, and still is, a complete S-show.

    This is because, as this blog has pointed out a million times:

    Representative Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan, has had discussions with White House officials about appointing a domestic terrorism czar at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    The purpose of the national security state is NOT effectiveness, it is the creation of additional bureaucracies to employ losers who cannot do anything productive.

    Reply
    1. Andrew Watts

      The empire always comes home. The good news is that it’s a declining empire on the verge of collapse. The life cycle of an empire at this stage means the actual harm they can do to their subjects is minimal.

      “The purpose of the national security state is NOT effectiveness, it is the creation of additional bureaucracies to employ losers who cannot do anything productive.”

      Somebody I knew once called this phenomenon “white man’s welfare”. I always suspected he worked for the CIA at some point in his career. Never asked though,.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        To me, this sounds like the suggestion of an empire which plans to go down fighting.

        A Domestic Anti-Terrorism Czar? Aside from further conditioning the mass-brain-mind to accept and support Czar-ship, such a figure would probably want the power to guantanamize and padillafy thousands or more of domestic “targeted persons of interest”.

        Reply
  17. Louis Fyne

    interesting trivia…ranking of total covid deaths per capita :

    #1. NJ, #2, NY, #3, MA #4 RI, #5 MS, #6 AZ go check it out for yourself. https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/states-normalized.html

    why mention this? The media is running this narrative that everything turned out hunky-dory in blue states. Far from the case, the blue states had even worse outcomes than “neanderthal” Texas and company.

    Those Northeast blue state politicians and public health officials need to be held accountable. But it looks like the first draft of the covid hagiography has been written and NJ did just fine, thank you.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      In Massachusetts, my understanding is that a large amount of the deaths occurred very early in the pandemic and at nursing homes and other long-term care centers. I think what happened there was appalling and hated the complete lack of accountability that our elected and appointed officials had. I don’t know if that’s the case for the other states and if states with lower fatality rates had similar crises a year ago.
      Subsequent issues relating to reopening and masking and their impact on death is very important, but should probably be assessed separately as they point to different failures of governance.

      Reply
  18. Judith

    This does not seem like a good idea.

    https://prospect.org/health/big-tech-of-health-care-united-optum-change-merger/

    “It’s not often that the American Hospital Association—known for fun lobbying tricks like hiring consultants to create studies showing the benefits of hospital mergers—directly goes after another consolidation in the industry.

    But when the AHA caught wind of UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Optum’s plans, announced in January 2021, to acquire data analytics firm Change Healthcare, they offered up some fiery language in a letter to the Justice Department. “The acquisition … will concentrate an immense volume of competitively sensitive data in the hands of the most powerful health insurance company in the United States, with substantial clinical provider and health insurance assets, and ultimately removes a neutral intermediary.”

    If permitted to go through, Optum’s acquisition of Change would fundamentally alter both the health data landscape and the balance of power in American health care. UnitedHealth, the largest health care corporation in the U.S., would have access to all of its competitors’ business secrets. It would be able to self-preference its own doctors. It would be able to discriminate, racially and geographically, against different groups seeking insurance. None of this will improve public health; all of it will improve the profits of Optum and its corporate parent.

    Despite the high stakes, Optum has been successful in keeping this acquisition out of the public eye. Part of this PR success is because few health care players want to openly oppose an entity as large and powerful as UnitedHealth. But perhaps an even larger part is that few fully understand what this acquisition will mean for doctors, patients, and the health care system at large.”

    Reply
  19. Pelham

    Re Noahpinion on Bidenomics: The analysis might make sense if there were enough money behind the aspirations. Biden himself pledged a $7 trillion plan during the campaign, and Sanders would have doubled that — which, realistically, is probably what we need. Biden’s $2.3 trillion — and remember that’s only his opening bid — spread over 10 years seems pretty thin. For instance, we’ve heard for years that just repairing existing infrastructure and getting it back last century’s functionality (forget climate change and the caring stuff) would cost $4 trillion.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      It might help to know Noah was a proponent of Micro, have not check for awhile, and how that might shape his opinions.

      Reply
  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    Is there nothing that kabuki actors can’t do? Now they are taking over baseball.

    Here is one of my favorite on the Kabuki Kool channel. Megumi firefighters brawl with sumo wrestlers. Honor is at stake!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-wOIn0uVcM&t=594s

    Every episode on Kabuki Kool is amazing, but I found this one to be the mind-blowing-est.

    Reply
  21. John A

    Re Buttigieg and his short bike ride. If he is going to wear a suit when biking, he really should get mudguards, although tbh, it looks like he could do with stabilisers as well.

    Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          ” Stabilizers on the right of the Pond”? Where on the right of the Pond? What country on the right of the Pond calls them “stabilizers”?

          Reply
      1. John A

        stabilisers are a small wheel on either side of the rear wheel often fitted to kids’s bikes to give them more confidence that they wont fall off.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          A little like ‘mudguards/fenders’, stabilisers/training wheels is very much an across the atlantic thing.

          It reminds me of many years ago watching the final sprint stage of a road cycling race. There was a huge pile up at the end, thankfully nobody was badly hurt. I was on my bike watching. As the crowd disbursed, a small boy, about 8, cycled up on his bike to admire mine.

          ‘Did you see the big crash’? He asked.
          ‘Yes’, I replied.
          ‘Do you know why they crashed?’ he asked.
          ‘I really don’t know, I didn’t see what happened’ I replied.
          ‘I do’ he said confidently. ‘none of them had stabilisers’.

          Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          In America we call those ‘training wheels’ . What are they called in Canada? What are they called in the anglophone Caribbean countries?

          Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, known to some as Short Ride Jr., peddling pedaling.

      A very light paraphrase of some shop floor banter between my foreman and me:
      “You ever see a guy in the hood with his left pant leg rolled up? That means he killed somebody.”
      “What about the right leg?”
      “It means he’s ridin’ a bike.”

      Reply
  22. skippy

    Ref – “Drone shots of a Pennsylvania slag heap:”

    Reminiscent of the historical gold mine at Mount Morgan, Queensland where rocks are tinted a dark orange along the creek due to the use of cyanide in the processing process. It runs up the sides of the creek quite high on the steep hill the mine was on and the more inclined opposite side the Irish miners lived on and quite a way down the creek. Not to mention its quite close to the coast.

    Interestingly enough this mine produced the wealth[????] that funded one of the first petroleum companies and the distance up the hill from the creek a clear sigh of ones status.

    Re Boulder …

    The city was originally founded by East Coast elites as an enclave to escape the *oppressive* summers back East, became a wealthy hippy community [mom&dad money] in the 60s/70s, and during the 90s over run by rich kids due to the funding model 40% instate 60%+ out of state [reversal of previous model] lifestyle seeking student. Parents bought up old RE sharehouse stock whilst kid was in school and the pump was primed.

    Reply
    1. Darius

      That Jennifer Miller article got a ton of s#$% when it was published a month ago. The Trillbillies did a great takedown.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Here’s the rub … you go outside Boulder city limits to the East and your in a completely different reality, hence why most don’t, West is preferred due to ski slopes.

        Had a peek at her article on the WP and a few post interviews about responses too it. The *** strong entrepreneurial spirit*** claim is a bit over egged as its all funded by the bank of mom and dad with additional broad network affiliation and expertise that comes with their background E.g. zero bootstrapping going on here.

        Albeit some kids lose the plot and snort the seed corn like the ones that started and ran the Elephant Bar with many other examples on offer. That’s not even broaching the hot white collar money flows from favorite party consumables of the liberal class through out the business sector. There is a big estate on the right side of the Hwy coming down the hill into Boulder, that in my day, was owned by a big coke player, that had huge party’s for all the – right sorts – until he got nicked due to some sloppy management of underlings and was informed he had to have a short stay in the gray bar hotel for optics – a year.

        A year in a high priced full amenities bespoke incarceration facility and some new business control management architecture and life was good again …. does this remind you of anything else – ????

        Reply
  23. ambrit

    What’s wrong with “little Madison” going to Madison?
    See: https://www.wisc.edu/
    She should feel right at home. The collage even has a functionality acronymed as APIDA; the “Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month.” What’s a future PMC not to love?

    Reply
  24. Andrew Watts

    RE: “The Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2020” [JAMA]. Key factoid: “From 2019 to 2020…. suicide deaths declined by 5.6%.”

    The small decease in the suicide rate is dwarfed by the massive increase in unintentional injuries. Which is a euphemism for a self-inflicted death which wasn’t planned. The paper states that the sharp increase in unplanned deaths in 2020 was brought about by overdoses.

    Reply
  25. NotTimothyGeithner

    The Biden policymaking process seems almost completely opaque;

    Between Biden’s usual nature, there is a bunch of low hanging fruit such as rural broadband, even Shrub had a decent plan to launch a national broadband structure even if porn downloads would have still taken forever. Promises of rural broadband have been out there for a long time. Biden just has to be a bit more focused than Trump and a bit less obsessed with pleasing David Brooks and kicking DFHs than Obama to grab a bunch of these prizes. After 12 years of no earmarks in legislation, there is so much to do.

    Reply
  26. allan

    Community Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Associated with a Local Bar Opening Event — Illinois, February 2021 [CDC]

    During February 2021, an opening event was held indoors at a rural Illinois bar that accommodates approximately 100 persons. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and local health department staff members investigated a COVID-19 outbreak associated with this opening event. Overall, 46 COVID-19 cases were linked to the event, including cases in 26 patrons and three staff members who attended the opening event and 17 secondary cases. Four persons with cases had COVID-19–like symptoms on the same day they attended the event. Secondary cases included 12 cases in eight households with children, two on a school sports team, and three in a long-term care facility (LTCF). Transmission associated with the opening event resulted in one school closure affecting 650 children (9,100 lost person-days of school) and hospitalization of one LTCF resident with COVID-19. These findings demonstrate that opening up settings such as bars, where mask wearing and physical distancing are challenging, can increase the risk for community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As community businesses begin to reopen, a multicomponent approach should be emphasized in settings such as bars to prevent transmission* (1). This includes enforcing consistent and correct mask use, maintaining ≥6 ft of physical distance between persons[ In a BAR? AYFKM!?], reducing indoor bar occupancy, prioritizing outdoor seating, improving building ventilation, and promoting behaviors such as staying at home when ill, as well as implementing contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine when COVID-19 cases are diagnosed. …

    The only surprise is not Wrigleyville.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > maintaining ≥6 ft of physical distance between persons[ In a BAR? AYFKM!?]

      The desire for conviviality is basic to humankind. Sadly, the virus has made venues where conviviality takes place, like bars and restaurants, extremely dangerous.

      Reply
  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    That Easter Bunny in the Clinton photo has the same basic facial expression and face-form as Mrs. Furry Rodent from the Why Mommy Is A Democrat book. Is there a deeper message here?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’m wondering what Bill is doing with his left hand, it being down low behind Mr/s Rabbit’s fundament.

      Reply
      1. Michael Ismoe

        The rabbit was Jeffrey Epstein. Bill owed him one so he invited him to the Easter Egg Roll. “So many young children. It was amazing.”

        Reply
  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    People have a choice about buying MFTs or not. Homebuyers did not have a choice about getting their records all MERSed up. That was done to them without their permission, so far as I know.

    Anyone rich enough or rich-feeling enough to buy an MFT can afford to lose it if there are verification problems or link rot / site rot problems.

    Reply
    1. Phillip Cross

      Nobody is really buying NFTs. The whole thing is a swizz to normalize the “large amounts of money for nothing” transaction, and to pretend there is a real world use for “online magic beans”.

      The people who stand to profit from these events are the ones “buying” (from each other) in order to create a buzz. You’ve got to speculate to accumulate!

      If they succeed, money laundering becomes a matter of selling a few gifs for magic beans, then cash the beans in for legit cash… And it’s a twofer because the massive hoard of magic beans they are holding will go up up up in value too.

      Reply
  29. The Rev Kev

    “Trump Keeps History at Bay by Putting Off Presidential Library”

    Can you imagine the fun and games that will be associated with the Joe Biden Presidential Library? People in Delaware, beware of your pubic parks – or old Joe will do an Obama on one of them.

    As for ‘The Bezzle: “NFTs Weren’t Supposed to End Like This”, I had almost forgotten the atrocity of MERS and how they absolutely corrupted land ownership in the US. But MERS was done wholesale whereas these NFTs are being done retail – to rich idiots.

    Reply
  30. Michael Ismoe

    The Trump Presidential Library and Casino.” Why not?

    Well, his presidency was sooooo yewwwgg that he probably thinks he will two presidential libraries. Duh.

    The Donald Trump Center for Political Democracy and Voter Integrity.

    Reply
  31. Michael Ismoe

    Can anyone answer a quick question? Remember a year ago when Covid was a thing? Someone went out a spent like $30 billion on ventilators. Ford was going to make them. GM devoted a an entire assembly line to produce ventilators that no one wants to be seen using. Where are they? And why? And can we get a refund?

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, there was that. I don’t see it as bad faith, since we didn’t know even the little we know now. Unfortunately, a ventilator is not just a pump, and that’s what many of the inventors went out and created.

      Looking back, I would look askance at the focus on hospitals, but they were being overwhelmed at that point, and the long pole in the tent was ventilators.

      Reply
  32. occasional anonymous

    “According to the dictionary, socialism means that the government owns all the means of production”

    Oh god my brain. That isn’t what socialism means. Good for him for arguing against Republicans, but he himself is presenting a strawman here.

    Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      How would you define it? I looked up Webster’s and the definition is a bit more nuanced than the above, although the above is definitely part of it:

      Collegiate Definition

      1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

      2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
      b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

      3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

      There’s also a little inset on Socialism cf Social Democracy:

      socialism vs. social democracy
      In the many years since socialism entered English around 1830, it has acquired several different meanings. It refers to a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control, but the conception of that control has varied, and the term has been interpreted in widely diverging ways, ranging from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal. In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.

      Reply
      1. occasional anonymous

        Any definition that just dumbly defines collective ownership as ‘the government owns stuff’ is wrong. That can be the definition of state socialism, but state socialism is far from the only form of socialism.

        “Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism”

        This in particular is just nonsense. Social democracy and democratic socialism are two completely difference things. ‘Now often referred to’? By who? People using crap dictionaries?

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          by Bernie Sanders and his many supporters, wasn’t it? Whether that’s ‘wrong’ or not in your submission, that’s seems like a pretty uncontroversial sentence in a descriptivist dictionary.

          You didn’t answer my question though, how would you describe it? You don’t strike me as someone who would shy away from the opportunity to show off their breathtaking learnedness. I don’t really care about the definition of socialism myself, I’m just curious.

          This is setting aside the point that you didn’t actually read the excerpted paragraph correctly, as it is in agreement with you. You and the author both think that is a strawman definition of socialism. Merely presenting that definition to make that point is hardly the author making a strawman argument himself. It seems you just read a definition of socialism you didn’t like and started
          foaming at the mouth.

          Reply
  33. SlayTheSmaugs

    To understand what is really wrong with the Georgia law, consider this tweet from Derek Jeter, CEO of the Miami Marlins, minor league through hall of fame Yankees talent: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EyAXfVIWYAI04L2.jpg

    Really consider the part of the Georgia law that prohibits people from giving food and water while they are standing on line to vote. Factor in the fact that Black people in Georgia in particular stand in hours long lines to vote. See, e.g., https://www.npr.org/2020/10/17/924527679/why-do-nonwhite-georgia-voters-have-to-wait-in-line-for-hours-too-few-polling-pl. Consider that the law includes giving food or water to voters to be a kind of “soliciting” voters that is illegal, and it’s illegal to give it to them not only in line, but within 150 of the line. That’s like half a football field. I imagine that efforts like Jeter’s/the Marlins have the potential to increase turnout because people got fed and it was cool to get fed, it was the Marlins. And I’ll bet all kinds of people, not just Black people, were happy to get fed by the Marlins.

    Consider the 150′ ban on giving food or water to voters, and ask yourself: If the legislation’s motive is election security, then what is that provision’s election security rationale? There is none. It’s dehumanizing and spiteful, aimed at discouraging people from voting by making it physically harder to do.

    And remember, the reason Georgia Republicans are pushing changes to election law is because Democrats won. They introduced the bill intending to change that next time. If you analyze it as introduced, it was meaningfully worse. But the bill’s getting better doesn’t erase the motive. The ban on food and water to voters stuck on long lines remains in the bill. So you know what the bill is still really about, at the motive level.

    I mean, it’s kind of crazy that provision was enacted, isn’t it? It’s so transparently NOT about election security, and it was a majority-of-legislators decision, not a fringe provision.

    Florida has a bill, H 1407, but proposes creating infrastructure to enable campaigns, candidates, and individuals (read: billionaires and zealots) to sort ballots by address to pick the ones they want to challenge by claiming the signatures don’t match.

    Yes, Florida has a cure process, and campaigns organize to help voters cure, but you’re supposed to win elections by adding to your vote total, not strategically subtracting from your opponents at scale.

    People look at the other provisions of these laws/bills and they think there’s some kind of genuine election security debate happening, that this is really a good faith policy disagreement.

    People engaged in good faith policy debates don’t prohibit people giving food and water to voters, and don’t propose to create infrastructure that would allow campaigns to target residential neighborhoods for ballot challenges.

    So much of the analysis of the law’s provisions is besides the point, because it acontextually considers the provisions. It’s important to remember the timeline: Georgia Democrats won, and Democrats won the Executive and Legislative branches of government. The R Legislature responded by introducing a bill (again, it started out worse) intending to prevent a repeat. The motive is clear from the timing, as well as the don’t-feed-the-voters provision.

    Reply
      1. Anonapet

        Yes, and I recall the Soviet Union was slammed for long lines as a defect of their system.

        “Physician, heal thyself!”

        Reply
    1. SlayTheSmaugs

      I cited the wrong FL bill number. The correct FL bill number is HB 7041.

      Lambert, sure, if the topic is fundraising, etc. I’m just trying to flag the fact that debating the effects of the GA law misses the point. The GA bill was introduced to try to restore Republican dominance at the GA polls. The fact that it was improved as it went through the legislative process, so that in the end, it may or may not have that impact–the power shift in election administration power having as yet unknown consequences–does not change the fact that the bill was never intended to be an actual election security measure, and it’s a trap to debate each provision acontextually. What’s more, the law’s authors provided conclusive ammo with the ban on food and water–which is anti-poor as well as anti-Black, when you consider efforts like the Marlins’.

      Reply
  34. drumlin woodchuckles

    Mitch McConnell not a happy camper about certain corporate leaderships criticizing the current wave of voter suppression bills.

    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/04/mitch-mcconnell-is-horrified-that-corporations-are-speaking-out-against-voter-suppression

    Or to put it another way, Senator Mitch ” the GopFather” McConnell has a message for Corporate America: ” Nice little tax cut you got there. Too bad if something was to happen to it.”

    Reply
  35. kareninca

    P1 is worth watching in itself:

    “Massachusetts has reported more cases of the new P.1 COVID-19 variant which has been associated with increased transmissibility and possible re-infection than anywhere else in the U.S., and local researchers said the spike is concerning.

    The bulk of those cases, they added, are linked to a cluster on Cape Cod.

    Data from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard revealed that in less than a month since the state reported its first known case of the P.1 variant, which was first detected in travelers from Brazil, it has spread faster than any other COVID-19 variants in the Commonwealth. ” (https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2021/04/04/p1-covid-19-variant-in-mass)

    But there is something extra. Look at these two statements, in the same article:

    “Of the 58 known positive cases of the P.1 variant in Mass., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 have been identified in Barnstable County. ”
    and
    “The most recent weekly coronavirus report for Mass. showed that more Barnstable County residents have received their first shots than any other region in the state. . ..”

    Could this be evolutionary pressure at work? Could mass vaccination against the original strain be making the P1 strain more likely to survive and spread? There is have been more (per capita, I presume) people vaccinated in Barnstable than elsewhere in MA, and more cases of P1 per capita. Or is this a coincidence?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      No, you have this backwards. The P1 variant is out there. The fact that it may “escape” vaccinations would mean it can become dominant. But that like having a spray that kills ants but not cockroaches. The cockroaches would have survived irrespective of ant spray.

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        Yes, I guess that in this case blocking the original strain from spreading doesn’t count one way or another for this new strain. Theoretically it could, since perhaps having caught an original strain could confer some protection (superior to a vaccine) from a new strain. The ants would block the cockroaches. But in Brazil it looks like having caught the original strain does not confer protection against P1. Thanks.

        Reply
  36. kareninca

    There was a flurry of articles about covid breakthrough cases last week, and then they quickly tapered off. I guess the MSM is not finding it to be an interesting topic. I will keep looking.

    Reply
  37. skippy

    I see there is a few theological opinions on WC today and would suggest its critical in establishing an opinion to put everything into historical context and reconcile new information supported by anthropology before taking that step off into the void.

    Most traditional religions have roots in PIE [Proto Indo European Culture], Judaic/Christian beliefs are grounded in Sumerian mythology post collapse, the factors behind the Councils of Nicea is pivotal to the currant architecture of all denominations extenuating from it [huge editing influences that put neoliberalism to shame], Thomas Goodwin’s concise summery is one of the most earnest referrals to the texts meanings in their original context when written [they did call them Puritans] or should I say edited with political foresight and zero divine intervention.

    I might as well wrangle with the various opines some have of as a Rand or Hopple to the veracity of thought within that closed framework and how its derived at …

    Reply

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